A Carrying Party from Kim Beattie’s And You!

             A Carrying Party

It's damn the wet Frog-weather; it's damn the cold-
     foot guide,
   It's damn the "Sub" in charge and damn the war;
It's stumble, fall, and blunder, and wish you were
        down under;
   And damn the mate who wonders: "How far more?"

You'd ditch your load and beat it, but don't know
        where to go;
   The guide is groping, lost, and wand'ring round;
There's rebellion in your heart but the "Sub" he knows
        his part;
   He neither answers back nor hears a sound.

The U Frame cuts your shoulder or the bath-mat
       breaks your back;
   You whimper out with rage when you go down;
You're weary past conceiving and tired beyond
       believing;
   And the holes are almost deep enough to drown.

The battered trench is cluttered; you hear a dead man --
       sq-ush!
   Your profanity turns near akin to prayer;
But your every muscle aches and control it nearly breaks
   And you'd bless the Fritz that laid you peaceful
       there!

The mud is to your arm-pits; the slime seeps to your
       heart;   
   You're sobbing, mumbling out as down you go!
"Go slow ahead, you blighters!" --and they call us
       Noble Fighters --
   But like a fool you're up and on you go!

The line is disconnected; you curse them when you're
       joined;
   The fitful black is loud with crimson spurt;
But at last you dump your load --and all back the
       homeward road
   Your secret mind is storing one more hurt.

                           --Kim Beattie

From And You!  Toronto: MacMillan, 1929.  Pages 36-37.

Notes:
“U-frame”: In the photo below one sees four “A-frames”.  The duckboards are suppported by the cross piece of the “A”.  A “U frame” is essentially the same thing, but without the cross piece; they are merely a support for duckboards to sit on.  Theoretically, the area underneath the duckboards allows for drainage.

“Bath-mat” is slang for “bath-mat duckboards.”  I’m not sure if these are duckboards that are connected by rope (as a bath mat would be) or simply a pre-fab section of duckboards.

yorks_aframe

A reconstructed section of trench, as part of a display in Boezinge, Flanders.

51007

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